Utah State University, “B-Hydration”, Moab, Utah

  • Location: Moab, Utah, USA.
  • Site: Urban university campus.
  • Status: Initiated Winter 2013, completed Fall 2014.
  • Scope: Full campus landscape redesign and build out. Community design charrette and workshop, detailed design, project management during build out.
  • Accolades: Featured in The Permaculture City and many other publications, as well as used to influence public policy around green infrastructure in the state of Utah.

Utah State University’s Moab campus was a sea of asphalt in a Colorado Plateau desert when Real Earth Design arrived. Scant rainfall hit unreceptive surfaces. The more plentiful sun shone on the same surfaces to raise the air temperature. Pollinators were few and far between. Shade and soil were difficult to find. As the pilot site of Moab Bee Inspired Gardens, the desire was to transform the impervious urbanized desert landscape into a lush, productive, micro-riparian area for the benefit of the whole ecological community. Real Earth Design set in motion a process where the asphalt caliche was broken, rainwater soaked back into the soil, pollinators found habitats, and people found a place to learn how to repair the desert with innovative techniques of water-harvesting, food production, pollinator gardening, and ethnobotany.

Real Earth Design was hired to lead Permaculture workshops in ecological stormwater management and a community design charrette as the first step of a redesign of the entire campus landscape. We took the information gathered in that session and completely re-patterned the campus. Using water harvesting swales, curb-cut basins, and several cisterns, we harvested over 125,000 gallons of annual runoff in a climate that gets only 9 inches of precipitation per year. This site has served as a model for the entire state of Utah to increase adoption of green infrastructure and low impact development practices. We utilized native stone and plantings to increase the aesthetic of the site. It led to a stunning transformation from water scarcity to ecosystem abundance. 

This project has become a beloved institution in Moab. This is partly due to the fact that we engaged community members to design and build this project out, a hallmark of Real Earth Design’s process. The campus was sold in 2021 and is now home to a hub of community serving non-profit organizations.

Real Earth Design designed a similar landscape at the main campus in Logan, UT.